"Ooh, darling! Would you look at that," trilled the Honourable Helen Wetherby-Smythe.

Alicia swivelled on her barstool and froze, white wine flute halfway to her mouth, "Oh my god. What a sex bomb."

Villiers drew a deep breath and manfully refrained from gritting his teeth. No matter what the blandishments (or - to be more honest – the blackmail) he was never, ever going shopping with his sister and her idiot friend again. The dragging-around every department in Harrods and Harvey Nicks was annoying but predictable; the waiting whilst they tried on dozens of outfits (most of which he'd thought looked quite dreadful on them) was tedious but endurable; the loud and often quite unflattering commentary on everything and everyone was just a bridge too far however. Much as he loved his sister, as far as he was concerned Father had definitely 'spared the rod and spoilt the child' with his only daughter.

The Honourable (and yet Appalling) Helen gave a shrill squeal that would have put a piglet to shame, "Ooh! Don't look now! Don't look now! He's coming this way."

Naturally this just caused Alicia to stare even harder. Villiers succumbed to temptation and turned his head to see what paragon of manhood the two were slavering over now. And almost choked.

Striding towards them was 007.

By the time he'd recovered from the shock, Bond was standing beside him. Helen and Alicia instantly went from drooling unbecomingly to batting their eyelashes flirtatiously.


"Bond," he replied warily, wondering just what the hell the agent was doing here.

"What, no hello kiss?" asked Bond, a twist to his lips.

Twin giggles sounded from down the bar. Villiers briefly closed his eyes and reminded himself that the man was a trained assassin; punching him was not an option. Opening his eyes he was met with 007's most obnoxious smirk; the man was definitely enjoying his discomfort. Something in him snapped.

"Of course darling," he gritted out, and then reached over, curled a hand around Bond's neck, leant forward and kissed Bond, hard and fast, on the mouth. He sat back, conscious of his sister and her friend gaping at him. With a sinking feeling he realised that kissing a trained (and notoriously womanising) assassin was probably just as stupid as hitting one.

Bond didn't look angry however, or even surprised, but there was a certain gleam of something in those cold blue eyes. Before Bond could speak Villiers hastily said,

"Did you need me for something?" then wished he could vanish on the spot at the amusement on 007's face.

"Oh, I always need you," Bond practically purred, "However I'm not the only one who does. The office has been trying to get hold of you for the past hour or so - you must have turned your phone off. Some emergency they desperately need you to solve, so I'm afraid I'll have to tear you away from these lovely ladies."

Bond turned a stunning smile on aforesaid ladies and Villiers was irritated to see them practically melt. And turning his phone off? That was complete rubbish. It was however, also escape. He stood, slipped a banknote onto the bar, and gathered up his coat,

"I'm terribly sorry to leave you in the lurch like this, Alicia, Helen; please accept my apologies."

Helen nodded dumbly, still eyeing Bond with stunned lust. Alicia frowned.

"But aren't you going to intro..."

"Duty calls I'm afraid," he interrupted her, ignoring both the request and good manners. No way in hell was he introducing Bond to his little sister, "I’ll call you later. We can go shopping some other time."

About the same time the royal family granted Al-Fayed a British passport, if he had any say in it. He gave Alicia a quick kiss on the cheek and followed Bond out the door.

"Alicia! You didn't tell me your brother was gay!"

"You expected a straight man to go shopping with us?" his sister's voice rose in surprise.

In front of him, Bond snorted in amusement. Sororicide had never looked more attractive.

"Well at least he has good ta..." the bar door mercifully shut off any further embarrassment.

When he’d first caught sight of Villiers leaving Harrods (and wasn't it practically a treasonous offense to shop there nowadays?) James had thought he'd never seen M's Chief of Staff look more miserable. Sheer curiosity compelled him to follow the man and his two blonde companions into Harvey Nichols; stalking the English gentry in their natural habitat, as it were. At first he'd thought Villiers was shopping with his girlfriend and a friend, but then the 'girlfriend' had turned, displaying a profile almost identical to Villiers. A somewhat distinguished profile on a male, but rather more unfortunate on a woman.

Quite why he’d decided to rescue Villiers he wasn't sure. It certainly wasn't fellow feeling; he'd never be fool enough to agree to go clothes shopping with his sister (if he'd had one, that was) and the blonde harpy she had attached to her.

Certainly it had been entertaining to watch someone ruffle the feathers of the usually self-contained Chief of Staff. A couple of departments later however and he'd decided not only did the man have the patience of a saint (as well as the awareness of a brick wall – he’d never have made it as a field agent), but also probably a well-paid dentist, judging from the way he was constantly clenching his jaw. Bond was about to brave the waiting room to the Ladies dressing room, when the two blondes announced their intention to repair to the Fifth Floor bar to the entire department. Villiers tagged along behind them, weighted down by shopping bags and the look of a desert island castaway sighting an oasis.

James let Villiers knock back half a lager before making his move. Both women practically ate him alive with their eyes as he crossed the room. Villiers' expression of surprise and reluctant greeting made an amusing counterpoint. James struggled to contain a smirk, but obviously failed judging by the gratifying flash of temper on Villiers face. And then the man was kissing him.

It was quick – just the brief sensation of warm fingers against his nape and firm lips upon his - before Villiers was sitting back, looking as though he had rather shocked himself. Fortunately that hadn't dulled the man's wits any and Villiers ditched his companions quickly and gracefully - without introducing him to either, James noted. Not that he was interested in a couple of green and single man-eaters anyway.

“So I don’t warrant an introduction to your sister?” he enquired once they’d reached the sanctuary of the lift.

Villiers shot him an incredulous look, “My gratitude doesn’t extend that far.”

Bond slouched against the railing. "I notice your gratitude hasn't extended to thanking me for the rescue yet either."

Villiers flushed slightly. It made him look ridiculously young.

"Thank you. I do appreciate it."

"Hmm. I'm sure I can think of something for you to do to thank me properly."

The flush deepened at the innuendo and Villiers scowled at him. Bond grinned.

"I don't kn..." Villiers broke off as the lift came to a halt at the next floor. A young couple got on, gave them both a cursory glance and then continued to talk to each other in quiet, fast-paced Italian. They got off two floors down. By that time Villiers had regrouped and Bond could almost see the armour of smooth politeness sliding physically back into place.

Between the first and ground floors Bond leant over and pressed the EMERGENCY STOP button. The lift juddered to a halt and Villiers turned a startled gaze on him.

"What are you doing?"

“It occurs to me that you said hello to me, but I never returned the greeting.”

The look of alarm that darted across Villiers’s face probably meant he was wondering if Bond was going to beat the shit out of him. Bond gave a small hard smile and let Villiers back away from his advance, until his quarry was up against the lift wall. Bond put a hand on either side of Villiers’s head.

Villiers got out, “I rea…” before his mouth was crushed under Bond’s.

There was a small grunt of surprise. Bond pressed forward, crowding Villiers’s body and swiping his tongue against the still mouth under his, demanding entry. There was a moment’s continued resistance and then he felt the flutter of eyelashes against his face as the other man closed his eyes. Lips parted, letting him in.

He took full advantage, plundering Villiers’s mouth, wet and hot and flavoured with the faint bitterness of hops and lust. Villiers was kissing him back now, making soft, arousing little groans, and Bond suddenly wanted to trace that taste back to its beginnings, to strip Villiers back to nothing but raw mindless passion.

He reached out and pushed the EMERGENCY STOP button again.

Bond lifted his head when the lift doors opened, the sudden chatter of Japanese cutting off abruptly in the background. Villiers opened his eyes, pupils blown, and stared dazedly at him.

“Next time, remember that’s how you kiss hello,” Bond said, then slid away through the gaping crowd, leaving Villiers to the curiousity of Japanese tourists and the approaching security guard.

saiyuki index

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